Brown measures to expand use of nuclear power clear Senate energy committee

Senate Trade & Economic Development Committee, Jan. 21, 2015.Today the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee approved a package of bills aimed at encouraging and expanding the use of nuclear power as part of the state’s carbon-reduction strategies. Sen. Sharon Brown, a member of the committee and the Legislature’s leading advocate for nuclear power, introduced the four measures, which are now one step closer to a vote of the full Senate.

“I’m really pleased that my colleagues on the committee agreed with me that nuclear power must be a substantial part of our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, while still producing the energy and jobs that Washington needs,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “It’s about taking an all-of-the-above approach that focuses on innovation, technology and incentives, rather than a punitive approach to reaching our goals.”

The EET Committee approved these bills:

  • Senate Bill 5114, which would provide a sales-and-use tax incentive for the production of small modular reactors, including costs related to construction materials, machinery, and equipment. Under Brown’s bill modular reactors are defined as scalable nuclear-power plants using reactors that each have a gross-power output up to 50 megawatts of electricity.
  • Senate Bill 5091, which would add nuclear power to the list of alternative-energy sources eligible under the state’s voluntary Green Power program.
  • Senate Bill 5093, creating a nuclear-education program aimed at helping science educators teach nuclear science and technology. Under Brown’s bill, the nuclear-education program would be administered by the director of the Washington State University Energy Program.
  • Senate Joint Memorial 8000, which requests that the federal government create a permanent nuclear-waste repository.

Brown called the bills crucial to creating a long-term environment conducive to both clean energy and economic development.

“Meeting the 21st century environmental and energy challenges faced by the families and employers of the Pacific Northwest will require a workforce trained in next-generation technology,” Brown said while discussing her nuclear energy-education bill. “If we want Washington’s students to be able to compete for these high-paying jobs, we have to start exposing them to nuclear science and technology early on and nurturing their interest in this growing field.”